MONROVIA – The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and its implementing partner, COWAGIL of the Irish Aid funded Raising Community Voices project (RCV), in collaboration with ‘My ‘Watchman™ App’ on Tuesday launch a pilot project in Montserrado county aimed at strengthening Gender-Based Violence (GBV) report mechanism.
It is estimated that one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. The My Watchman™ App provides a hotline and emergency response Service that enables survivors of GBV and other community members when in vulnerable position to get access to critical emergency response services by triggering the app.
According to the collaborating partners, users of the APP will be able to report incidences at the same time capturing and storing crucial data including location, time and video/images where applicable (images and videos are captured by the responder(s)). Under this partnership, 150 selected WAGs members and Girl Shine graduates, primarily women and girls including survivors of GBV have been selected from the community to participate in the three months’ pilot.
Speaking at the launch in Chicken Soup Factory, Gardnersville, Madam Bentoe Tonhungue, the Director of the Family Health Division at the Ministry of Health commended the partnership between the IRC, COWAGIL and ‘My Watchman App’ for this innovation that will help the government’s efforts to respond to GBV. She further highlighted that this will empower the community members to respond and will also bring dignity to survivors.
“This is the kind of breakthrough idea we have been looking for she said.” My watchman App is the perfect opportunity to help prevent GBV in Liberia. We are with you along the way. Please be an ambassador and represent Liberia.”
The IRC’s Country Director Madam Faith Akovi Cooper, earlier giving the overview of the RCV project, said the partnership is supported by Irish Aid with a focus on promoting community involvement in GBV prevention and response. She encouraged participants to understand that collectively, everyone has a moral obligation to help fight GBV in Liberia and this is an opportune time to do so with this App.
“Understanding that GBV is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue IRC, COWAGIL and My Watchman™ App encourage and promote reporting of GBV in a safe and confidential manner without being labelled. Each participant will be equipped with this tool/APP and trained on how to utilize the My Watchman™ emergency response App,” she said.
She noted that the IRC has been in Liberia for more than two decades but has realized it cannot work alone, adding, “We must work with partners and we must work with community.
On the RCV project, she said the IRC requested its donor for opportunity to partner with the private sector owing to its critically important role in driving the economy and society.
My Watchman™ App is currently being used to report security threat, fire disasters and medical emergencies across communities in Liberia. It is with this understanding that the IRC and partners with funding from the government of Ireland seeks to explore innovative ways of improving GB reporting. In keeping with the health protocols during the COVID 19 Pandemic, the Launch and training will take place from July 27 through 29 in five communities across Montserrado, including West Point, New Kru Town, Neezoe, Chicken Soup Factory, AB Tolbert Road, and Soul Clinic Communities. All participants will be provided resources (data) to ensure they are able to call for help in the event of a GBV incidence.
Mr. Oliver Klark, CEO/Founder of My Watchman App discussed the vision behind the creation of the APP to provide emergency support services not only for fire and medical situations but to support the national effort to respond to GBV real-time. He then performed a Demo of how the app works, loading to the IRC’s Country Director’s phone and walking through a step by step process for the participants to observe.
He said the My Watchman™ SGBV hotline is monitored by a dedicated team, trained in handling every call with empathy and with the highest level of Privacy and Confidentiality; adding that, with survivor consents, when the appropriate emergency responder(s) is dispatched, the shift supervisor is required to send an SGBV alert to the necessary government and non-governmental authorities.
My Watchman™ is a registered trademark of Advanced Converged Technologies LLC (ACT), a technology company with regional offices in Liberia.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the collaborating parties stressed that effective collaboration and strategic coordination are critically important in GBV prevention and response, and revealed that the Ministry of Gender, Child Social Protection (MOGCSP), Ministry of Health and relevant stakeholders have been invited to participate in the project and launch as they strive to provide every woman and girl in Liberia with easy access to GBV prevention and survivors’ support services.
They further disclosed that following this pilot, stakeholders will review the data and explore opportunities for national implementation in alignment with MOGCSP’s effort.
Also speaking at the Launch, the Chicken Soup Factory Community’s Chairman, Mr. William T. K. Nyango thanked IRC and partners for the innovative program, and called for the inclusion of more people including men.
COWAGIL’s Executive Director, Margaret Sleyon called on the beneficiaries to make use of the opportunity to ensure GBV is kicked out of the community, she called for the expansion of the program to other parts of the country.